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My Thoughts

Adventures in Faith

LET ME TELL YOU MY GRIPE!

My Thoughts. . .

Thursday, 04-23-2020

ROME: 90 AD: Persecution is in full swing.  Soldier are breaking into home where house churches are assembling.  Members are harshly beaten and arrested.  Children are adopted by Roman pagan families.  The adults are sent to the Coliseum to amuse the paying audience.  The lions and tigers are winning 100 to 0 over the Christians.  The believers begin assembling underground.  The catacombs were dark and permeated with the smell of death from rotting flesh.  This discouraged the soldiers from searching there.  Christians who were wealthy, poor, black, white, male, female, slave or free met there.  Some worked for the government, others were soldiers, business people, men, women, preteen and teenagers.  They traveled deep into the stinking underground cemetery so their singing, prayers, and voices would not be heard.  Small candles were lit to provide some light.  When their meeting was over, each left in very small numbers so no one would notice.  Caution was tantamount.  Discovery meant death.

Teens nor preteens filled their hour or two playing games on slated boards.  Small talk surrendered to each encouraging the other.  They stood for an hour or two without complaint.  The scent that burned their nostrils, discomfort from the dampness and inconvenience was accepted as a haven of safety from discovery.  One attendee did complain that by so meeting, they were advertising to all pagans and the Roman government that they were ashamed of Jesus.   He remarked that if discovery and death was the results, if was better to die a martyr than be a cowardly Christian.  He later got his wish but found himself witnessing to a hungry tiger while a pagan audience roared out their approval of his martyrdom.  The kingdom is made up of all kinds of sinning believers and each has his opinion!  An opinion is a commodity they may be discarded or kept by the one who creates it.

Not every Christian slave who attended had a believing owner.  They were abused physically and sexually.  They had heard Peter’s admonition and complied (1 Peter 2:18-21).  They received encouragement and prayers from other saints during those assemblies. Despite their wounds and terrible experiences, they edified rather than complained.  It was mutual edification.  Here, in this darkened, smelly place each shed his or her societal status and stood as one in Christ.  They were there to share God’s love, mercy, and grace with one another.  They had not attended to backbite, complain about infinitesimal, inconsequential things, but to comfort others and be comforted.  These assemblies were a blessing.

In the twenty centuries since that time, haven’t we misplaced that spirit when we assemble?  Have we assembled to complain about the lack of comfort?  About the color the auditorium walls have been painted?  Do we gripe because the one who led prayer needed a haircut, or his hair style was too modern or just so strange?  How would our faith survive if we lost everything or discovered that our faith meant torture and a horrendous death?

What’s your gripe?

COVID-19: AN EYE OPENER!

My Thoughts. . .

Thursday, 04-16-2020

What if?  What if, in 1984 it was proposed that your congregation try something different?  The elders listened, agreed, and then implemented the following?

On the following Sunday no one was required to show up at the building.  Everyone could stay at home.  Each family would turn on their TV set to a special channel and be guided through their edification service.

No one would need to wear his “Sunday best.”  One could remain in pajamas if desired.  Men would not need to shave or comb their hair.  Women would not have to worry about what they were going to wear.  Bare feet could remain bare.  Who was going to know?

The songs were recorded earlier, and these were displayed across each TV screen.  Several had agreed to sing soprano, alto, tenor and bass with each recorded song.  The congregation, at home, could sing along with them.   Of course, if we had done this at the building, someone would have charged that we had a choir rather than a dozen people serving as song leaders.  Even multiple song leaders would have been questioned.

Each household prepared the fruit of the vine and the unleavened loaf for their participation.  An elder was videoed saying a prayer for the bread and then the fruit of the vine.  Who would serve the communion?  The woman of the house had prepared the bread, so she walked back to the kitchen and brought everything into the living room.  She passed out the bread to each family member.  She did the same with the fruit of the vine.  After all, we were not at the building.

Then it came time for the contribution.  One of the elders spoke for a few minutes, outlining the work the congregation was involved in.  Then he had a prayer after giving instructions on how one could give electronically.  Some had signed up earlier so the program took their contribution from their bank account and deposited it into the church’s.  This was done each Friday or Saturday when the bank was open.  However, this caused some to question whether the money was given on the right day?

Some were concerned whether we were scripturally partaking of the Lord’s supper.  1 Corinthians 11:18-20 was read to prove Paul said the church was to “come together in the church” and it was to be in “one place.”  They felt we all needed to meet in the auditorium to partake together for our actions to scripturally be the Lord’s supper.  Of course, that is the King James translation, which is not followed by later translations which used older and better manuscripts.  Actually, the church is together electronically although we not in one physical room at the church building.  We were in Jesus and partook as his one body of people.  Of course, church buildings weren’t introduced for two or three hundred years after the first century.

However, someone might wonder if by not meeting together at the church building, if we are being guilty of “forsaking the assembly” (Hebrew 10:25)?  True, we may not be meeting in the church building in a room called the auditorium, but biblically no one met in such a place for almost three hundred years after the first century.  We still meet and fulfill Hebrews 10:25. We were together in our actions of partaking.  And, we were together through an electronic assembly.

The first Sunday we met about 120 were viewing the service when we began.  If that averages to three people in each home viewing and participating, the overall number would be about 360.  If the average was four per household, it would be 480.  Someone said that according to another count over 1,000 people were viewing our site.

If the COVID-19 Virus had hit us in 1984, we would have been doing then all the things we are doing now.  We would go from a traditional church building worship to an “in house” worship.  The house to house worship would be very informal and scriptural (Romans 2:46; 5:42; 12:12; 20:20; Romans 16:5; 1 Corinthians 16:19; Colossians 4:15; Philemon 1:2).

I miss being at the church building to meet and greet before assembly time.  I miss the Bible class I attend.  But, through the courtesy of COVID-19, we are experiencing “church” while staying at home!  We are meeting together, house to house as they did in the first century.  We just happen to have the Internet!

FACTS ARE NOT ALWAYS APPRECIATED

My Thoughts. . .

Monday, 04-13-2020

“Don’t confuse me with facts, my mind is made up.”  Hey!  Don’t knock it.  Some will not listen to a salesman attempting to sell them a burial policy.  Why do they play deaf and dumb?  Because if you listen to the sales pitch, it might make you die sooner!  Haven’t you heard the well-worn axiom?  “If you don’t admit it, it won’t happen”?

King Agrippa bought into that belief when he questioned Paul by saying, “”Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?” (Acts 26:28).  He wanted to hear no more.  Some will not give up a cherished belief for several reasons.

1). An admission of error is impossible for a King and others to admit.

2). Some do not wish to admit that they have been wrong.

3). It may embarrass the individual, his family, his job, or his reputation.

4). For some an admission of being wrong is equal to sinning against the Holy Spirit.

  1. For some to admit error on one point, may mean they’re wrong on another.

Paul’s information caused King Agrippa to lose his curiosity over this Jew who had converted to the condemned Jesus.  When one’s mind is made up, it may be like concrete.  Only a divine explosion can crack it.  Agrippa did not wish to light the fuse, much less experience the explosion of God’s dynamite.  So, he ended the discussion.

Hard headiness is not restricted to Kings.  Paul was bitten by the disease.  On the first preaching journey, the young disciple John Mark had given up and gone home.  It did not sit well with Paul.  Barnabas, Paul’s right-hand man wanted to give Mark another opportunity.  Paul would not agree.  This led to “a sharp disagreement (contention).”  Have you ever seen two hardheaded preachers in a face-to-face argument?  It ended with Barnabas and Mark going one direction to preach and Paul and Silas traveling in another (Acts 15:37-40).  Sometime later Paul realized his mistake and admitted it by telling Mark he was profitable to him in his ministry (2 Timothy 4:11).  That does not often happen.  Paul developed a characteristic which few will allow to grow.  His admission concerning Mark was brought about by humility.

I once knew a man who was an excellent worker, but he refused to do anything a female employee would ask him to do.  Even if the owner sent the work order by that woman.  He lost his job due to that shortcoming.  I’ve known individuals who lost good jobs because they thought their ideas were superior to what their employer wanted.  We sometimes make up our minds and no one is going to tell us what to do regardless of the consequences.

Eve changed man’s entire history because her view of one tree’s fruit was better than the fruit from the other trees.  No harm in trying, right?  Noah’s generation refused to believe in something they had never experienced, and their view drowned with them.  Jonah didn’t want to waste his time nor energy in preaching to the pagan people of Nineveh.  God knew better, but hard headiness can give God’s people stiff necks.  Some become hardheaded because of a misplaced allegiance.  Corinth had that problem and divided their loyalty between four excellent preachers (1 Corinthians 1:10-13).  People have sat on housetops waiting for Jesus to appear because respected preachers gave them the incorrect date.  Hard headiness has created multiple misinterpretations of the Bible which have been accepted with a hook, line, and sinker attitude.

The reward of hard headiness can give the owner a hard way to go.  It can develop into division, false doctrine, believer alienation, misunderstandings, and false accusations which leads to soul damaging results.

So, “Don’t confuse me with facts, my mind is made up.”

GOD OR VIRUS: MAKE UP YOUR MIND!

My Thoughts. . .

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Due to the rapid spread of the Corona-virus (Covid-19), warnings have gone out from Local, State and Federal governments instructing churches to take steps to protect the welfare of all members.  Churches were asked to close their doors during this outbreak.  On a church forum one person asked if Hebrews 10:25 didn’t make it a sin for people to stay home rather than attend services on Sunday?  One lady replied with an emphatic “YES.”  Apparently the lady considered her reply biblical and it was her duty to condemn anyone who disobeyed her view of Hebrews 10:25.  In her opinion it was better to die from the virus than to lose one’s soul by being absent from a gathering at the church building Sunday morning.

Hebrews 10:25 is usually quoted making any absence a sin if you fail to go to the church building Sunday.  The idea is also advanced that one sin will send you straight back to the devil’s domain.  Such claims made by quoting that passage are out of context.  Hebrews 10:25 is not addressing absentees during a major pandemic that threatens lives.  Neither does it condemn someone fleeing from persecution.  It does not condemn someone staying home due to sickness whether adult or tending a sick child.  It does not command the church to withdraw from someone who has been called in to work.  What Hebrews 10:25 reveals, for those who are interested in context, is “who” is being address as the ones doing the “forsaking”?  Those guilty of that sin are the members who have (1) set aside God’s new covenant and have returned to the Old one for their salvation.  (2) It is for those who have trampled underfoot the Son of God.  (3) It is for those who have considered Jesus’ blood as unclean.  (4) It is also for those who have insult the Spirit of grace.  That verse is not being directed at the sick, persecuted, one called into work, or taking a medical emergency serious.  When we take a passage out of context, we are either adding to God’s word, or subtracting from it!  Usually those who do such adding or subtracting believe they are justified in doing so.  They aren’t!

The Pharisees asked Jesus if it was lawful to heal a man on the Sabbath (Matthew 12:10).  Jesus asked if one of them would not rescue a sheep that had fallen in the ditch on that day (v.11).  Phariseeism did not cease in the first century.  It is doing quite well today in our churches.  I’m sure someone would “righteously” accuse Jesus of thinking more of a sheep than he did of keeping God’s word!  Jesus told his crowd that the Sabbath was made for man, man wasn’t made for the Sabbath (Mark 2:27).  Some, like the Pharisees, need to understand that man is not made for the Sabbath or the first day of the week.

There was a time when members met from house to house because church buildings were a third or fourth century addition.  It was man that decided to add Sunday night and Wednesday night assemblies, not scripture.  Has anyone noticed that the Troas church met in the evening and continued that assembly after midnight (Acts 20:7-11)?  Are we less spiritual because we don’t follow their example?  The day the church began, they met every day.  Are we less spiritual because we don’t meet as often as they did?  When persecution hit, did they continue meeting every day, or did many of them leave town (Acts 8:1-2)?  When they forsook those daily meetings, did it mean they were guilty of losing their spirituality?  Man has a habit of making his own religious laws, binding them on others, and then swelling up in with pride that he is meticulous in keeping his own laws.  Jesus condemned the Pharisees for that type of thinking (Matthew 23).

We may pride ourselves on how close we are to being like the first century saints, but in actuality, we have surrounded ourselves with so many practices which they never thought about.  We do not imitate their assemblies nor match their growth.  Perhaps the only area where we are alike is in being sinners as they were.

The first century church had Pharisees who were members that preferred the Old Testament way of doing things rather than the New.  They would not agree to the concept that God added a Gentile to the body of Christ in an uncircumcised condition (Acts 15).  They elevated the Old Testament over the New one.  They made a law which God did not bind.  They quoted the old law on circumcision but ignored the New.  Hebrews 10:25 is applied by some to actions that God never considered “a forsaking” violation.  If we are not careful, we will become the modern heirs of Phariseeism in our interpretation of Hebrew 10:25.

NEW HEAVEN AND EARTH?

My Thoughts. . .

Monday, 04-06-2020

Isaiah 13, 65, 66 and a host of other passages are prophecies about things that would befall nations in Isaiah’s day, or shortly thereafter. Prophetic language is used which often causes today’s reader to mistake it for apocalyptic warnings for present generations. Language such as the stars not giving their light, the sun being darkened, the moon not giving its light, the heavens being shaken, and the earth being removed from its place is used. Within this same context the prophet uses the expression “new heavens and new earth.”

When we find the same language in the New Testament, we are given a choice. The reason for that choice is because there is no specific instruction that declares “this is the specific way God wants you to believe” about the “the new heaven and earth.”

Are we free to apply any belief we have to those passages so it will fit our interpretation?

Some interpret these Old and New Testament passages foretelling similar judgements upon people as being a coming judgment in our century.

The Old Testament passages shows God’s judgment under that covenant being brought upon nations in that time frame. Wouldn’t that also be the interpretation of similar statements made in the New Testament?

Since the stars, sun, moon, heavens, and earth were not literally affected as mentioned by the Old Testament, wouldn’t the same language in the New Testament carry that same idea? Wouldn’t it be prophetic language in poetic style for both time periods?

If number #3 is the correct way to interpret “new heavens and new earth,” then one needs to know what that new heaven and earth was in Isaiah’s time frame.

1). Did the “removal of the earth” mean that the earth was actually removed, or was that a prophetic or figurative statement?

2). Were the descriptions of the sun, moon, stars and removal of the earth just figurative in order to illustrate that a nation would be judged through a destructive war or natural calamity coming upon it?

3). If the language is figurative, and Peter borrows it, why wouldn’t it be figurative also in the first century?

A. Peter would be familiar with Isaiah’s prophecies and the figurative nature of the prophet’s words.

B. Wouldn’t those words be figurative also as used by Peter?

C. If the “new heaven and earth” in the Old Testament refers to a new relationship between God and His children when they returned from Babylonian exile, would that same expression not fit that same category in the first century?

D. Was this the beginning of an entirely new relationship between God with Jew and Gentile in the first century?

E. Didn’t the Old Covenant decay and disappear in the first century (Hebrews 8:13)?

F. Wasn’t a new relationship established where both Jew and Gentile could be saved in one body (Ephesians 2:14-22)?

G. Wasn’t the New Jerusalem sent down from God to replace the Old Jerusalem (Revelation 21:2-3; Galatians 4:22-31)?

H. Didn’t God begin dwelling in a new holy Temple (1 Corinthians 3:16-17; 6:19-20)?

I. Don’t we have “all spiritual blessings” in our Savior (Ephesians 1:3)?

J. Haven’t we been made living stones, a spiritual house, and a holy priesthood (1 Peter 2:5)?

K. Aren’t we living in that new heaven and earth which angels longed to look into (1 Peter 1:12)?

L. Haven’t we entered into the Most Holy Place, the new and living location where we are near God and have full assurance that we are no longer under condemnation (Hebrews 10:19-23; Romans 8:1)?

M. Because of all that God has provided, can’t we now shout out, “Abba, Father” (Romans 8:15b; Galatians 4:6b)?

N. Haven’t we been adopted (Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:5; Ephesians 1:5)?

O. Are we still looking for the new heaven and earth Peter spoke about or are we not enjoying it today as members of his kingdom (Colossians 1:13)?

P. Or, are we living in that new heaven and earth which is the body of Jesus (1 Corinthians 12:27)?

GRAMMAR CAN BE CONFUSING?

My Thoughts. . .

Thursday, 04/02/2020

If the word “churches” includes a singular assembly that would be “a church.” If the expression “of” shows possession, then the expression “churches of” or “church of” should scripturally be followed with the owner of who that “church” or “churches” belong to. That is usually the rules of grammar given from some pulpits. However, there may be an inconsistency in that rule.

Since Jesus promised to build “his” church, that church would belong to him because he is the founder. Therefore, it would be grammatically correct to say, “Jesus Christ’s church, “Jesus’ church,” “church of Jesus,” or “the Lord’s church.” However, for some reason, none of those descriptions are used by God! But our grammar is correct, isn’t it? Just because something is grammatically correct doesn’t mean inspired writers wrote to satisfied our grammatical additions! It also doesn’t mean that the silence of the scriptures negates our additions due to that biblical silence. If there is a scriptural rule which allows us to believe and practice something that the scriptures are silent about, we need to see those detail in writing rather than assume it. Otherwise, would it not be sinful to speak of “Jesus’ church,” “the church of Jesus,” or “the Lord’s church”? Of course, if there is a “silence rule” in scripture, we need to see it spelled out to us. That desire is found within the parameters of giving book, chapter, and verse for what we believe, teach, and practice.

Since 1 Corinthians 14:33 speaks of “the churches of the saints” and these grammatical rules are applied, then “of” would show that “saints” are the owners of those “churches.” Grammar would also allow the singular from the plural which would give us “the church of the saints.” Therefore, it would be scriptural for those saints to speak of “our church.” Since “saints” are Christians, and an expression may be switched, then 1 Corinthians 14:33 speaks of the churches of the Christians, or Christians’ churches.

If an expression in the plural allows one to assume all assemblies wore that plural designation as a singular one, then that rule would apply just as biblically to 1 Corinthians 14:33 as it does to any plural statement about the church. Of course, the assumption that all first century assemblies nailed a sign on the place where they assembled is probably more of an assumption than a biblical truth. Greek Grammar may have different grammatical rules than does the English usage. If we are going to base a belief and practice upon English grammar, we need to know whether English and Greek are always alike. We should also be consistent in using those rules. When assumptions are morphed into scripture, there is the possibility of deception creeping in.

If “the silence of the scriptures” is a valid, ironclad guide, then we must limit our designations to what scripture actually gives. This would mean no additions, no subtractions, just the biblical facts!

The most used designation of the assembly of Jesus is “church.” It is translated from the Greek word ekklesia and found 115 times in the King James Version rendered as “church” and 3 times as “assembly.” The word “church of God” is found eight times, “church of Galatia,” “church of the Laodiceans,” and “church of Thessalonica twice for each. It is used once to describe the church in Ephesus, “church of the firstborn,” and “church of the living God.” The expression “churches of the Gentiles,” “churches of Christ,” “churches of the saints,” “churches of Macedonia,” “churches of Asia,” and “churches of Judaea” are each found once. The expression “churches of Galatia” is found twice. Although Jesus told his disciples that he would build “his church” it strangely is never referred to as “Jesus’ church.” (Matthew 16:18). It is referred to by his title “Christ” once. The KJV and following English translations seldom if ever translate the word “Christ.” It is the Greek word “Christos” from the Hebrew word “Messiah.” The word “Messiah” means “anointed one.” In the Old Testament the Hebrew word is translated in every passage it is found in as “anointed.” However, two times the KJV spells it out as Messiah rather than translating it. Those two times are in Daniel 9:25-26 referring to Jesus. What is interesting, there is no biblical rule telling the KJV translators to anglicize the word rather than translate it. If the KJV had translated the word, we would be reading and saying, “Jesus the anointed one.” The one time the word “Christ” is used in a descriptive name of the church, it is in Romans 16:16. If translated it would read “assemblies of the anointed one.” The word “Christ” is a 1611 gift to the world by the Anglican Church. The ASV, NASV, RSV, and NIV simply followed their lead by refusing to translate it. So, we were shouldered with an Anglican belief.

I have referred to a “rule” advocated by a number of ministers and church scholars who refer to it as “the silence of the Scriptures.” Basically, that doctrine states that if something is not mention in the New Testament, it is without scriptural authority. One would be shocked to learn of the number of additional practices engaged in by all that were introduced by man in the different English translations. Sometimes Grammar can be confusing.

AUNT CORRINE’S THIRD HUSBAND’S SECOND COUSIN . . . !

My Thoughts. . .

Thursday, 03/26/2020

Strange heading, huh?  Maybe it caught your attention?  Perhaps you will read this strange way of seeing what I see.  Who thought up the term, “Social Distancing”?  What is it, 6 feet?  A friend of ours says he is making it 60.  That’s good.  Hopefully it is more than safe.  But, what about cheaters?  Do you know what I’m talking about?  It’s that individual that pops a piece of gum in his mouth while throwing its wrapper on the street.  That person believes he is exempt from all littering laws.  Why?  “Because it’s a stupid law.”

An older couple didn’t consider themselves to be in that category until that virus went into high gear, jumped an ocean, and started spreading itself across our nation in a couple of weeks.   One week no one in this state was affected.  Then, the news media announced that an under 40 individual died from the virus.  That death got our attention!  It was our “wake-up call.”  Let’s get back to that “older couple.”  They let grandchildren or great-grandchildren run errands for them while they stayed in the safety of their home.  Old friends also stayed away.  It was the safe thing to do.  Folks became very diligent about protecting themselves from anyone who might be carrying the virus.  Well, almost everyone!

The next-door neighbor, friends, and church members might be off limits, but not family!  It won’t hurt if the granddaughter receives a visit from Aunt Corrine and her daughter.   They will make it a short visit.  Aunt Corrine and daughter are healthier than a horse.  They are not coughing, running a fever, bothered with shortness of breath or suffering from aches and pains.  So, no problem with them making that visit. The granddaughter and baby?  Grandchildren and great grandchildren are exempt from the virus.  Everyone knows that.  The visit was kept short, the baby was prettier than everyone else’s baby, and no one had to worry about that pesky virus.  Everything was A-OK!

However, two days before that, Aunt Corrine had her hair fixed.  Her third husband’s second cousin did the fixing at her home because the beauty parlor was closed due to the virus.  No one did anything on purpose.  In fact, no one was knowledgeable about the way it happened.    They both had a wonderful visit with mom and baby.  The only problem, the third husband’s second cousin’s brother’s son’s girlfriend was infected, but no one knew.  The husband’s second cousin’s brother’s son was too busy enjoying those delightful kisses to think “virus.”  Must I say more?  The girlfriend shared more with the brother’s son than just kisses.  He wasn’t stingy, so without knowing it, he shared the virus with the husband’s second cousin’s brother, who was his father.  That sharing took place right on up the line.  Aunt Corrine got her share.  Aunt Corrine visited with the new mom and baby!  All innocently shared it and passed it on.  Not one family member thought they had the virus or were sharing it with others.  Ignorance can be blissful until it is no longer ignorant.  Everyone infected suffered a different degree of the fallout.  Aunt Corrine and the baby’s mom didn’t make it.

In some ways, that is how sin makes its rounds.  “Oh, I know it’s wrong, but everyone else is doing it.”  “Oh, the Bible is always making pleasurable things sinful.  Maybe for folks back then, but we’re more up-to-date now.”  “The Bible was written by a bunch of men and they treated women like slaves.  Who in his right mind would put much worth in what those men wrote?”  “It’s OK for me to go out with these friends, I know they wouldn’t try to influence me to do anything wrong.”  “The Bible?  That’s so out of date that no one in his right mind would pay much attention to it today.”

Truth spoken two thousand years ago is still truth.  Truth transcends customs, traditions, opinions, and man-made laws.  Satan still deceives people today.  The forbidden fruit in Eve’s day continues to grow and looks good to each generation (Matthew 13:22; Romans 6:12).

Jesus warned his disciples, “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:41).

One of those disciples also admonished, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”  (1 Peter 5:8).

Stay safe!  Physically and spiritually.

THE FOYER CHURCH!

My Thoughts. . .

Monday, 03/23/2020

The foyer fills up prior to the beginning of the assembly service. Numerous discussions are in progress. People are smiling, talking, and enjoying the fellowship. Someone notices the time and makes the first move with others following into the auditorium. The opening prayer signals that worship has officially begun. An hour later the closing prayer signals the official end of the “in spirit and in truth” worship. The foyer again fills up. People begin talking, short bursts of laughter are heard, smiles beam from many faces, and foyer fellowship cements and continues to seal friendships and appreciation for one another. Slowly the foyer empties with some continuing that fellowship at one of the local restaurants.

Foyer fellowship places people in face to face contact with each other. Eye contact is made and held. Auditorium time is spent viewing the back of someone’s head. We come to know one another through his backside haircut or her hair style. Foyer fellowship allows each to know the other through discussions about the concerns and joys of life. Auditorium time is culturally silent once the opening prayer begins and continues until the “Amen” of the closing prayer is heard. Some mistakenly believe they have fulfilled their “5 acts of worship” obligation to correctly worship “in spirit and in truth.” The “closing” prayer frees them to reenter actual life outside the auditorium.

Foyer fellowship is more personal, relaxed, and informal. Auditorium time is formal and regimented to conform to the understanding by some of Paul’s statement of “decently and in order” (1 Corinthians 14:40). Appearance is important and cultural traditions are foundational. In the first century, the Passover meal was accomplished around the table where they were seated and eating. It was the worship Jesus and the apostles knew and observed from scripture. Conversations were started, questions expected, information given, food and fellowship enjoyed, and the lesson of humility and service introduced by Jesus. The exodus from that table setting to today’s habitual seating and serving is accepted by most to be an authorized scriptural process. If substitutions were authorized, there would be no problem. However, that shift led to other changes until the original institution of the communion developed into something else. During the second century a special priesthood was developed to legitimize scriptural worship. It diminished the biblical fact that all Christians are priest (Revelation 1:5-6; 5:10). About the same time disciples moved from sitting at a table to commune, to going to an altar to be fed by a special priest or clergyman. The laity class came to receive the bread, but the wine was consumed by the priest in special clothing. Although Jesus is God, for him to walk into a modern assembly today might surprise him? What we identify as auditorium fellowship would probably be a foreign concept to first century saints.

Someone opines, “Oh, no.” They continue with, “The first century church did everything like we do it today!” Hmm, so they copied us? When was the last time you and your spouse were questioned by the preacher about your contribution? When did you ever walk up to the preacher and lay your contribution at his feet? When was the last time you saw a husband and wife die “in church” for lying? Do you have a burial committee which keeps shovels handy, just in case other liars give (Acts 5:1-11)? Is it scriptural for a tat burial committee to forsake the assembly twice to bury a couple of liars (Hebrews 10:25)? When do they partake or approach the preacher to give? Do we have come-and-go services that last three hours or more (Acts 5:7)? When you meet, do you break bread after midnight (Acts 20:7, 11)? Do you end an auditorium prayer with “and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus” rather than saying, “in the name of Jesus”? (Acts 4:30)? Where did a first century congregation end any prayer with our five words? Why didn’t the church at Troas have a midweek services for Paul and company to attend? They were there seven days (Acts 20:6). Did they forsake the Wednesday night meeting? Don’t we dismiss first century practices that don’t fit our culture or tradition? Do we make those changes because scripture dictates it? If scripture does not identify those changes, which century’s practices are we complying with? Do we receive a blessing more from foyer fellowship than the auditorium kind? Actually, the Bible never identifies “foyer” nor “auditorium” fellowship. It is silent about “opening prayer” or “closing prayer” to begin worship or end it. New Testament scripture does not identify what we do or do not do in the “auditorium” as “worship in spirit and in truth.” Our standard of identifying biblical things originates more from what we have become comfortable with rather than inspiration.

These are only my rambling thoughts. They may harmonize with scripture or they may not. Probably not worth your time nor mine. You be the judge. Don’t take my word for anything. However, if you are a Bible student, take the familiar language which we use to describe worship and see if our terminology is from the first century, or from a much later one. We assume much and believe it as truth. Our successes have resulted in the same need for correction as first century assemblies received. From one sinner to another, the old challenge of “book, chapter, and verse” is still needed.

WRONG SEEMS SO RIGHT

My Thoughts. . .

03-20-2020

If you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right” (Matthew 5:23-24).

This is a passage that few care to practice. Excuses are used by the injuring party to sidestep this teaching to justify his substitution. I have chosen The Message translation due to one of those excuses.

EXCUSES:

1). This passage is not bound upon us today because the KJV and “reliable” translations say, “bring thy gift to the altar.” It is talking about a Jew worshiping at the Temple (TLB, NLT). We are not under that system of worship today.

The location may be true because Jesus was talking to folks like himself who worshiped at the Temple altar. The principle is true regardless of covenant because in both systems, one worships God in each scenario by giving or making an offering.

The most common excuses and additions offered to offset that teaching are:

2) The offended person would not accept my apology if I went to him, so why bother?

3) The offended person doesn’t like me, so regardless of what I do, his only reaction would just make matters worse. Then I would be the offended party and he certainly would not come to me.

4) It is not my fault. He shouldn’t be so sensitive. He’s just trying to make it into a bigger issue than it is.

5) I don’t see why this should affect my worship just because he took offense to what I said and did? He made me do it!

6) Why should this affect my worship to God? I partake of the Lord’s supper just like the Bible teaches, so I’m following scripture. He doesn’t attend faithfully like I do.

Since the Lord gave this teaching, but the one who is offensive offers alternate action, isn’t that individual subtracting the Lord’s solution and adding his own manmade one? Isn’t that “another gospel”?

Rather than go to the offended party to talk things out, some will go to others, give enough information to make himself the offended one, which leaves the impression that the innocent person is the one who is disobedient. This “switch” portrays Jesus as an ignoramus whose teaching produces more conflict than peace in solving a disagreement.

The problem is that as sinful human beings, what is “right” has a tendency to look so wrong to us who make our substitutions to stay “right” with the Lord.

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